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Innovation Case Study: Shale Gas Extraction

What are the limitations of shale gas as a transition energy source?

In MAGIC we will provide such an analysis using the framework developed in the project, which is able to structure strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threads according to the feasibility, viability and desirability of the activity. In a first phase, we will define each of the SWOT components within the framework of quantitative analysis of social metabolism used in MAGIC with a case study in the US, where data is widely accessible. In a second phase, we will build scenarios of application in Europe and build the space of options for development in those regions.

Phase 1

For phase 1, we focus on the case of Pennsylvania where there is not only good biophysical data but a policy history to check. Pennsylvania, produces a third of the shale gas of the US, which supposes about half of the US natural gas.

Partners: UAB, UT and UiB.

Phase 2

For Phase 2, we chose four case studies to build QST scenarios of substitution of coal by natural gas in the energy mix and see how this change the SWOT indicators of:

  1. Vability of the country (economic and labor)
  2. Feasibility (environmental impacts) of the energy sector
  3. Desirability of the transition from coal to natural gas

The four case studies selected are:

  • The UK, where shale gas is developing despite a strong social opposition;
  • Poland, where shale gas is not developing despite the strong commitment of the government to implement the innovation;
  • The Netherlands, which is already an important gas producer and has proven reserves;
  • Germany, where the discussion about substituting coal with natural gas is on vogue after COP23, despite the current ban on the development of shale gas.

For more information:


Download the "Definition Innovation Case Studies" Milestone report


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Case Study Update

Previous works:

This case study builds up on the work developed in the project IANEX (MC action, in progress till December 2018). In the first stage, IANEX used shale gas in the US as a case study to build in a participatory manner the network of processors (system structure) and to define the relevant indicators (analytical taxonomy). The second stage of IANEX assesses scenarios of shale gas development in Europe. 

Please note that while shale gas is (currently) not a discussion at the EC, we have chosen to keep this case study for two reasons:

1) As a case study, shale gas is an example of very controversial innovations where public participation in the design of the analysis heavily determines the results of the analysis. (Should we compare to what degree public participation determines the level of analysis inm MAGIC? How to measure that?) 

2) As an activity, shale gas development has strong impacts locally and globally. Locally, it is an actual source of impact is some EU regions. Globally, China and Argentina have joined the US in the support for shale gas development. Given the recent announcement of the NL government of conventional gas reserve depletion, the increasingly deteriorating EU-Russia relations, and the capacity of shale gas production of manipulating fossil fuel global markets, it is important to keep an eye on the activity.


    Work progress (+ Completed, * In progress, - to be done): 

    • Definition of case studies  +
    • Identification of relevant policies *
    • Definition of relevant actors *
    • Contact of relevant actors -
    • Interviews for adaptation of processor network and indicators to EU reality - 
    • Focus groups for adaptation of processor network and indicators to EU reality -
    • Data gathering *
    • Analysis of metabolism of shale gas -
    • Discussion against current policy -
    • Definition of option space and policy opportunities and policy SWOT-
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    Where can you find more information about the case study?

    You can know more about this case study in the Knowledge Hub section > "Innovation Cases"